The lengthy saga of Mizrahi Developments’ attempt to build a luxury condo development on Wellington Street West has entered its newest phase.
After being ordered to come up with a new proposal by the Ontario Municipal Board following an appeal, the developer has floated a new design for the property on the northeast corner of Island Park and Wellington West.
The design – still at the initial 12 storeys – was vetted at a community meeting held on Sept. 24.
In its ruling, the OMB declared that Mizrahi could either come up with a nine-storey design (thus conforming to the area’s community design plan and the site’s “traditional mainstreet” zoning), or submit a truly iconic 12-storey design.
Mizrahi has long declared that the large expense of remediating the site’s contaminated soil requires a 12-storey building to make the investment worthwhile. The new design retains the same height and shape as the previous proposal, but adopts a new facade with recessed balconies and a green metal roof that hints at the city’s Parliamentary precinct.
The upper setback has been moved lower by one floor, while the setback between the fourth and fifth floors remains the same. The uppermost portion of the roof slants inwards to create less massing when viewed from the ground.
Not surprisingly, those who had earlier demanded the area’s community design plan be respected held firm to this stance in light of the newest proposal. Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said no other issue in his ward generates as much feedback and comment to his office as this one.
“A couple of people have changed their minds (since the revamped proposal came out), one person said it’s much improved, but that’s one person out of dozens,” said Leiper.
“We’re still at about a 70-30 split, where the majority don’t want to go beyond the nine-storey limit for the site, and others say it’s well-designed and offers the best hope for redeveloping that corner. To my understanding, the density of the building remains the same … They’ve reduced the height of the ground floor, so the building is slightly lower.”
In May of last year, city council rejected the previous 12-storey proposal, deferring to the rules laid out in the CDP and treating the proposal as a cautionary example of what will befall developers who ask for too much.
In past meetings, many residents were supportive of the outdoor furnishings that Mizrahi proposed to make the surrounding property friendlier to the public. Those attributes remain in the new plan – a city parkette is shown on the west side of the building, with a landscaped public area and small playground.
Floor plans for the development show a 500-square-metre retail or restaurant space on the ground floor.
Leiper who sits on the city’s planning committee, said he won’t be recommending the proposal.
“I will be urging staff to recommend against it and will be urging colleagues to not allow 12 storeys,” he said. “The new proposal is a big improvement and the architecture is good for a proposal like this, but I don’t think it’s so good that it warrants going above the nine storeys allows in the CDP.”
City staff are expected to recommend a preferred direction to planning committee on Oct. 27. The committee’s vote, and subsequently council’s, will guide the city’s lawyers when they join representatives from Mizrahi at the Nov. 7 OMB meeting.